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Politics

EU Prosecutor Decries Immunity for Ministers Over Deadly Train Wreck

BRUSSELS – European Public Prosecutor Laura Kövesi, who said the New Democracy government is obstructing her office’s investigation into a February, 2023 head-on train crash that killed 57 also complained that ministers have immunity and can’t be held responsible.

“We have brought criminal proceedings against 23 public officials and, in accordance with the stipulations of the Greek constitution, we have not been able to conduct the investigation against former ministers who are possible suspects in the case,” she said.

That was in an interview with Kathimerini in which she said that ministerial immunity is “in breach of EU regulations and law,” and as a petition signed by more than 1.8 million people asked for that to be stripped, including for Members of Parliament.

“We should be able to go all the way with this investigation because everything we are looking at is related to how the money was spent on this project (to upgrade the signaling-telecontrol system) and what ultimately happened,” she added.

Kövesi said that based on the evidence that her office has gathered, “if the project had been implemented on time and properly, this tragedy would never have happened.” The then transport minister Kostas Karamanlis blamed those on duty and resigned.

He said he didn’t have enough time to fully implement safety measures and after quitting was elected a Member of Parliament, where he enjoys immunity unless it’s lifted by a vote of colleagues but with his party having a majority.

Kövesi said a similar case in Romania made her aware of the trauma that disasters like the tragedy at Tempe can cause. “This kind of trauma cannot be healed without justice. This immunity should not exist and we should be allowed to complete our investigation,” she said, adding it was proof, “corruption can kill, that financial crime kills,” she said.

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